Kinder, Gentler Denethor, A

In Dreams

2. Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Denethor wept and wailed inside, though he stayed calm out of necessity, his heart breaking as he held his little son in a tub of ice cold water. This was the healers’ last attempt to break the fever that seemed to climb higher still despite their efforts, and he knew it. Denethor had sent two of the Tower Guard themselves to try and fetch ice from the nearby mountain to try and cool the burning body of his little child. The feverish little boy fretted in his hands, the cold water feeling hellish against his too hot skin. Denethor held him there, trying to soothe the boy, until the healers told him to remove him from the water. Denethor wished he could have held his little one in those moments but the healers instructed him to place the child on a bed, covered in a very thin sheet, until it was time to put him in the ice bath again. So Denethor sat by the bed, stroking the child’s hair as Faramir’s glazed grey eyes tried to focus on his father and failed. The boy was whimpering in pain, but nothing seemed to ease it, and the soft sounds tore at his father’s heart. Imrahil had brought Boromir in to see his brother just before they began the ice baths. Denethor cringed; remembering the look upon his the face of his eldest, knowing Boromir recognized the visit for what it was; a farewell. The ten year old had knelt beside the chair where Denethor rocked Faramir and found the courage to speak through his tears. Faramir had not the strength to rouse during his brother’s farewell, had only been drawn back to semi-consciousness by the pain as the baths began. Denethor feared that all his little son would know, ere his waning strength gave out, would be that pain, that burning. Denethor dropped a kiss to the dark hair, a tear dribbling down from his cheek into the sweaty locks. Someone told him it was time to put Faramir into the bath again, but as he moved to pick his son up the boy cried out, convulsions gripping his small form, fever seizures taking him. ***** “Relax, Estel, or this will not work,” Elrond told him, his fingers gently massaging Aragorn’s temples in an effort to get him to relax. “I do not understand how this will work,” Aragorn sighed. “Trust me,” Elrond advised, “and worry about healing the boy and keeping yourself safe.” Elrond did not mention that he too would be keeping his foster son safe. There were risks involved in what they were about to attempt; the worst chance being that one of them might meet their doom that night. It would only be one of them; Elrond would make sure of that even, it meant he would journey to Mandos to save Aragorn from departing for the halls of his fathers. Aragorn was his son; he would do no less for any of his children. “How is this going to work, Ada? I would be able to relax if I knew!” Aragorn asked, frustrated. He did know that he would not be in full control -- something he was not fond of giving up. “It is a difficult process to explain. This has not been done for a very long time. I do not, in fact, have a clear memory of the last time it was done,” Elrond said. “I will try to link with the boy through our shared gifts, which is the most difficult part of this, for I have little to no knowledge of him. Linking to you will be easy, for we share some blood, far back but it is still blood shared, and I have exercised my healing powers on you enough...” The words were accompanied by a rather pointed look and Aragorn had the decency to squirm a bit before Elrond continued, “You, through my connection, will be able to heal the child. There is sorcery in this fever, some darker power wants him lost, but you are his rightful King and will be able to cast the shadows from him, though he will not understand this aspect.” “Which is why we have brewed the athelas,” Aragorn nodded, mulling over the explanation, knowing there were a great deal of details Elrond had left out. “I am not facing...” “No. Though there are touches of something similar in this,” Elrond assured him, knowing his foster son doubted that ability within him yet. “You can do this, Aragorn, I am certain.” “How is the athelas to be useful in a dream though?” Estel wondered. “I will make it so when you are in need of it,” Elrond said absently. “Now relax, breath deeply, and let me...” Aragorn did as his father bid, concentrating on the feeling of the elf lord’s fingers at his temples until they seemed to fall away. Aragorn shook his head, becoming frustrated. “It did not work, Ada, we are running...” Aragorn had opened his eyes to darkness. It was not quite black but grey and the shadows were deepening. Aragorn realized, with a start, that he seemed to cast the shadows away. It was not a glow he was emitting; Aragorn would know how that appeared for he had grown up among elves, but the...air? around him became lighter. Aragorn looked around, swallowing. It had worked, he supposed, but Elrond had told him he would know what to do and he did not! Then a sound caught his ear. His head turned and he saw the boy, huddled into a ball, dark waves of curly hair obscuring his features. Aragorn crouched before him, and the boy seemed to sense his presence and glanced up. Red rimmed grey eyes met his and Aragorn felt his heart was lost. This child was special; he knew that to be true, and Aragorn *would* spare his life. There was no other option. The grey eyes regarded him solemnly, not afraid, Aragorn noticed, no, not afraid but impossibly curious, and impossibly wise for one of these few years. He was reminded nothing more of the many instances when he had gazed into the eyes of one of his dearest friends, the elf Prince Legolas Thranduillion. His age seemed beyond reckoning to many humans but Aragorn knew he was one of the youngest of his people who remained in Arda, considered one of the last Elven youth to be born upon its shores. “Shh, tithenmin, all will be well, I have come to help you,” Aragorn soothed, opening his arms to the child. ***** The light was dim in the back room of the Hall of Healing. Denethor sat in the rocking chair with his youngest son, only the soft glow of an oil lamp lighting them. It masked the paleness of his son’s face, Denethor thought, and made him look more like himself. Faramir fought for every breath now. Denethor could feel the struggle beneath his hand, which gently stroked the little chest, trying to ease his breathing. The boy no longer fretted but lay so deathly still in Denethor’s arms that had his father not felt the shallow breaths stir against his hand he would have thought him dead. The healers had relented here, at the end, when no hope was to be found, and let Denethor hold his son. The child was all but gone and it seemed too cruel to deny his father the small comfort of holding him while he passed. Boromir had long since fallen asleep, having wept his eyes dry in Imrahil’s arms after leaving the Halls. If he had still been awake Denethor may have consented to his presence but he had not the heart to wake his eldest son to witness death of his beloved brother. The boy had been in the room when his mother passed, quite by accident, and Denethor knew it still haunted the boy. Imrahil had sat with him for a time, saying nothing, his hand stroking Faramir’s dark locks as Denethor massaged his chest. Denethor wanted to be alone with his little one for a time, though, and Imrahil had respected that, pressing a farewell kiss to the burning brow before leaving father and son alone. Denethor was not sure of what he was feeling any longer. His whole being was centered on the barely discernable rise and fall of his son’s chest, of doing what little he could to ease his breathing, to keep his little one with him for a little longer...just a little longer... Silent tears trickled down his weary face. He would not give into outright weeping, no, for that would obscure his vision and he not lose a moment’s sight of his little son still alive. He could not make a sound, for that would drown out the all too quiet sound of the raspy breathing. He could not spare a precious second when any might be the last. ***** “Have you come to take me to Mama?” The boy asked his voice very soft. Aragorn noticed that the shadows seemed to stalk him and motioned the boy into his arms. “No, tithenmin,” Aragorn told him, somehow knowing that the boy’s mother was dead. “It is not time for you to join her yet.” “I miss her,” the boy sighed, and Aragorn was relived to feel the little body willingly come into his embrace. “But I do not think my brother and Papa would like it if I left too.” “No, I am sure they would not,” Aragorn whispered, tightening his arms around the child, wanting the keep the shadows at bay. He, in truth, had no idea who this boy was, but did not doubt one such as he could be unloved. It surprised him to feel warmth radiating off the child even in this dream. It was not often, Aragorn knew, that a sickness went this deep. They were running out of time. “My name is Faramir,” the boy said, looking up at him with those big grey eyes before resting his tired head on Aragorn’s shoulder. “You have a name too, I think. You are like me, only different...” Aragorn chuckled. “Yes, tithenmin, I am simply older than you, and have the help of another. My name is...” Here, Aragorn hesitated, he had no idea who this boy was, and spreading word that the Heir to the throne of Gondor lived in self imposed exile could not spread. “I have many names, Faramir, but let me be Estel to you.” Faramir looked thoughtful for a moment. “That means hope, does it not?” “Yes, it does,” Aragorn told him, feeling absurdly pleased the child knew at least part of the language he had grown up with. “You are not an elf though,” Faramir appeared confused. “No, just a man,” Aragorn said firmly. “I have come to help heal you.” Faramir nodded, “Papa will be glad.” “Yes...” Again Aragorn hesitated. “I am sure he will be glad but I want you to promise me something.” Aragorn felt the dark head nod against his shoulder, “You must tell no one that I came to your aid.” “They would not understand, would they?” Faramir asked. “No, let them think it a miracle,” Aragorn laughed, gently ruffling the boy’s hair. Faramir smiled brightly at him, but then his face fell, becoming pinched with pain as he gave a soft cry. Aragorn tightened his hold, speaking urgently. “Listen to me, Faramir. You must trust me, try to relax and do not let go of me. This may hurt, but you must not give up, I will be with you, I will help you. Can you do this for me, tithenmin?” “Yes,” Faramir whispered shakily, closing his eyes tight and pressing closer to Aragorn as the arms around him tightened. Aragorn began to whisper something, chanting it so softly Faramir could not hear it at first. A scent of something seemed to wrap around them, and Faramir relaxed against Aragorn’s strong chest, feeling somehow refreshed. Even as the pain returned, trying to tear him away, he knew it would be alright. As the scent of athelas surrounded them Aragorn felt his strength grow and remembered Elrond was there too, his father would help if anything were to go amiss. His voice grew louder. “Light to the darkness, life to the dying, away shadows, away!” Faramir stiffened, his hands clutching at Aragorn’s shirt, and a ragged cry of pain breaking past the boy’s pale lips. Aragorn held fast to him. “Light to the darkness, life to the dying, away shadows, away! I cast you away!” Aragorn would never be sure how long the struggle lasted, only that he was soon yelling, clutching the boy as tightly to him as Faramir held onto him. “Light to the darkness, life to the dying, away shadows, away! I cast you away! You cannot have him! AWAY!” It was, in the end, over with a great flash of dazzling light that made Aragorn feel dizzy. He felt exhausted, and he doubted he had anything but a rasp of a voice left. They still clung to each other; Faramir still nestled against him, and Aragorn could feel the little body was cool to his touch. The boy hesitantly raised his head from Aragorn’s chest, loosening his tight hold. Aragorn gave him an exhausted smile and Faramir let out a tinkling laugh. “We did it!” Aragorn chuckled. “Yes, tithenmin, we did.” It was then Aragorn noticed they appeared to be on a beach of some sort and gave pleased smile as he recognized the sandy shores of Dol Amroth. So, he thought, this is what the little one dreams of when he is not beset by shadows. Then he looked down the beach and started, spotting three people set up for a picnic further down the shore. Of all the things, of all the people...Aragorn laughed, he had to. “Is that your family, tithenmin?” Faramir looked and let out a squeal of joy. “Yes! And now I know all is well and this is a dream for Papa would never come to the beach with us! Especially never to eat. He said sand was not part of his lunch and never would be even when Mama laughed at him.” Aragorn laughed heartily, feeling slightly giddy with exhaustion and relief. “It is your dream, tithenmin, go join them.” Faramir smiled brightly at him again and for once heartbeat nestled back into Aragorn’s arms, whispering in his ear, “You will visit me again in my dreams, soon, I know it. Thank you!” With that the boy took off down the shore, sand flying up from his feet as he ran, leaving Aragorn kneeling bewildered on the shore even as he felt the dream fade, and a familiar presence grasp him by the shoulders. “Ada,” Aragorn gasped, opening his eyes to his father’s study. “My Estel,” Elrond said quietly, and Aragorn found himself slouching into his father’s arms. “You did very well, my son.” “I am exhausted,” Aragorn admitted then laughed. “You did not tell me I was to save Denethor’s son!” “Would it have made a difference, Estel?” Elrond asked gently. “No, none at all. That man is blessed by his children,” Aragorn murmured, his eyes drooping. “I do believe I know the feeling,” Elrond smiled, pressing a relieved kiss to his son’s brow. “There is, however, one thing I should tell you before you can reacquaint yourself with your bed.” “Faramir is well, is he not?” Aragorn asked, suddenly worried. “Oh yes, he will be fine. But...You remember I told you there were risks involved, son,” Elrond said seriously. “One, I believe has come to pass.” “Ada?” Aragorn asked unsurely. “Nothing that will harm you or the boy, Estel, but you settled so deeply into the link I formed between you and he I could not fully break it when I withdrew us,” Elrond told him. “You will be able to reach each other through your dreams, should you wish it. I can teach you to block him from yours; given some time, for I do not believe all you dream is suitable for a child.” “No,” Aragorn agreed. “They are not.” “Tonight you need not worry of it, you will sleep without dreams tonight, I believe, for you have exhausted yourself,” Elrond told him, aiding his son to his feet. “You have exhausted me!” Aragorn protested. “I was sleeping peacefully until you woke me.” “Yes, sleeping peacefully with a dagger beneath your pillow,” Elrond said, amused. Aragorn snorted, then leaned against his father more heavily, “I am glad we spared him, Ada, important to the future or not, he is a special child.” “I know the sort,” Elrond said gently, guiding his son to down the hall to his room, supporting him with an arm around his waist. ***** Denethor felt his heart stop as Faramir’s breathing changed and he let out a long sigh. For a moment, all he knew was blinding grief... But...the chest beneath his hand moved again. Faramir’s ragged breathing eased, deepened and evened out. Sweat broke suddenly across his forehead and Denethor’s eyes widened as he felt the skin beneath his hand begin to cool. He would have called the healers immediately but his voice seemed to be lost. He stared dumbly, joy soaring to life in his heart, as his son stirred and big grey eyes fluttered open. They were bleary and exhausted but they focussed on him! “Papa...” Faramir mumbled before he buried his head in the soft material of Denethor’s shirt and drifted back into his dreams of Dol Amroth sand. “Oh Faramir, my dear little son,” Denethor managed hoarsely and now he did weep for sheer relief. Imrahil, standing outside the door, heard the Steward begin to cry and ventured in hesitantly, thinking Faramir had finally succumbed to the fever. Denethor looked up and beckoned his brother-in-law over, wiping hastily at his tears. “Our little one is not leaving us yet,” Denethor managed his voice shaking with relief. “The fever has broken.” Imrahil touched a hand to the boy’s forehead and stared in wonder, “How is this possible?” “I care not! Fetch the healers, the fever has broken and he shall live. My Faramir shall live!”

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Jacks

Status: Beta

Completion: Work in Progress

Rating: General

Last Updated: 11/29/04

Original Post: 05/20/04

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